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Joey Ortiz

Often overlooked, Joey Ortiz defied expectations

Joey Ortiz credits parents with helping him reach the majors

HOUSTON – Joey Ortiz has worked hard to play a vital part in the Brewers’ offense. Often overshadowed by other top prospects early in the Orioles’ farm system, Ortiz had to double his efforts to rise to the top.

His work ethic stems from the sacrifices his parents, Juan and Denise, made when he was growing up in the Los Angeles area. Juan Ortiz would wake up before dawn during the work week. He would hoister on his work boots, and then head to his construction job.

After long hours of strenuous work, Juan Ortiz always found time to introduce baseball to his son. Joey was coached by his dad from the time he was 3 years old until he reached high school. That devotion is paying off for Joey Ortiz, the National League Rookie of the Month of May.

The Garden Grove, Calif., native doesn’t take his parents’ efforts and sacrifices for granted. In fact, his parents’ sacrifices fuel Joey Ortiz to go above and beyond on the diamond.

Joey Ortiz inherited parents’ work ethic

“Both of my parents, I would say, are very hard workers,” Joey Ortiz says. “They worked every single day of my life to give me this opportunity. I’m blessed for sure.

“They worked every day of the week, it seemed like, just to make sure I was able to go to big tournaments and do stuff like that. My dad does construction, so he was always breaking his back and still gets up every morning to get to work. That kind of gave me the blueprint of how to go about my life.”

Ortiz hit .307 with four home runs and 12 RBIs with seven doubles and a triple in May to earn his first NL Award. The Orioles drafted Ortiz in the fourth round of the 2019 MLB Amateur Draft from New Mexico State University. That was the same draft where the Orioles also selected Adley Rutschman first overall and Gunnar Henderson in the second round.

With the addition of top pick Jackson Holliday in 2022, Baltimore’s eighth-ranked prospect fell under the radar. The stacked Orioles farm system didn’t faze the Mexican American infielder. It only made Joey Ortiz better.

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Playing with the best prospects in baseball fostered friendly competition with one another. Each of them wanted to start and be on the field as much as possible. That competitive nature and diligence helped Ortiz’s game to grow.

Good competition

“It’s good and it brings competition and makes you have to up your game,” Ortiz said of playing with top prospects. “It was good. We pushed each other and made each other get better.

“You have to work everyday and make sure you are in a good position to produce to keep your spot. That’s what I am trying to do.”

Milwaukee acquired Ortiz in February in a trade that sent the 2021 Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes to Baltimore. Ortiz’s experience in Milwaukee has been pleasant. His new team welcomed him with open arms.

While Jackson Chourio is the rookie who has the received the most attention, Ortiz has quietly made a statement.

Ortiz, 25, has been a fantastic surprise for the NL Central-leading Brewers. He’s belted five home runs, 15 RBIs and tallied 30 hits. He ranks third on the team in batting average (.294) and is second in OPS (.941).

Joey Ortiz impressed Brewers early

“He’s come on strong,” Brewers’ manager Pat Murphy said of Ortiz. “We really didn’t know what we were getting. He shows up to spring training and we don’t know much about him.

“He hits the ball hard. There’s damage in there. It’s not always home runs, but he hits the ball hard.”

Ortiz’s offensive production may be a pleasant surprise for Murphy and the Brewers. For the 5-foot-11 slugger, though, his success in the majors is long overdue. His production replicates his work ethic.

Wherever Joey Ortiz is batting or on the field, his father’s words still loom in his mind. 

“Just work hard,” Joey Ortiz remembers his father telling him. “Make sure you are putting in the work everyday because it shows when you are working hard.”

He carries that advice.

“That is what I am trying to do,” he says. 

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